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halloween witchs hat front door

Kids love the Halloween season, and there’s no better way for them to enjoy it then by making your home into a makeshift haunted house. Without breaking the bank, you can transform your home into something not only kids can enjoy, but adults as well. Here are a few simple tips to help assist in the creative process, while keeping the focus of the project in mind – how the kids will react to it!

1. Start with your front door

As far as the kids are concerned, your front door is the main focal point to their tricking and treating. So, when you’re looking to create an atmosphere of haunted houses, start there. Think about creating a spooky goth wreathe as a centerpiece. Decorate your door knocker with fake webbing using cotton batten, or a rubber creepy-crawly or two. Attach ghostly fabrics and streamers around the door that will catch any eerie autumn breezes. Hang an apple-based “shrunken head” on the door knob.

As with every occasion, your front door is often a visitor’s first impression. Make your door the one all the kids want to knock on, and with the thrill of eeriness as they do so that Halloween is all about!

2. Get with the (spooky) sound

Sound is an important aspect of creating that eerie haunted house for the kids at Halloween. And you don’t have to go over the top with it or make it too loud. With spooky sounds, less is more for the “what was THAT??!” effect that you’re looking for.  Some well-placed speakers and a YouTube soundtrack is all you need.

3. Add Some eerie lighting

There are several ways to add some eerie lighting to your house. One way is to simply buy colored bulbs or black lights for lamps or light fixtures. Incandescent bulbs are only about $2 a piece; eco-friendly CFL bulbs go for about $5. Rope lighting or even neutral colored Christmas lights can also make a nice accent to your haunted house, and no haunted house is complete without some candles — either natural or electric.

So, whether you’re looking for a traditional haunted house or an alien-infested one, lighting is important.

4. Strategically place some jack-O-lanterns

Never underestimate the power of a jack-o-lantern. Not only is the experience of designing and cutting a jack-o-lantern memorable, but it also brings the family together. If you’re bored of the same old facial expressions, there are cutouts online that you can get for free, and most pumpkin carving kits are under $10.

Your house doesn’t have to look completely crazy, either.  A well placed and well-carved jack-o-lantern or two will go a long way.

Halloween kids trick or treat

5. Think about (tasteful) props

You don’t have to go overboard here, or get too gory. Rubber severed heads are not necessary! But, what about cardboard cut outs of bats, black cats, skeletons that you make with the kids? What about a tall pointed witch’s hat made from construction paper to sit on a chair or directly on your front porch as shown above?

When it comes to the truly spooky, you don’t have to spend a lot. It’s the subtle additions that the right props can bring that can make all the difference.

6. Dress the part

There’s not much worse of a spooky haunted house deal breaker than when the kids knock on that spooky door and you answer it wearing a cardigan. But, again, there’s no reason to cover yourself in fake blood either. All you need is subtlety yet again. Dress in black, go a little bit on the goth side with make-up, scour the dollar stores for hats, wigs, capes, fake jewelry, and other wardrobe additions.

You don’t have to spend a lot on a top of the line costume when these understated additions will do just as well. And when you dress the part, you can enjoy that haunted house atmosphere yourself. There’s no rule that says appealing to the kids has to mean leaving your fun loving spirit (pardon the pun) out of the equation.

7. Appeal to all senses

It’s not enough to simply appeal to sight and sound. You should strive to add sound, touch, smell, and taste whenever possible. You can use weak adhesive on objects to make them sticky or gooey. Create a touch and smell masterpiece by baking cookies, lighting  a fire in your hearth, or warming some apple cider for that autumnal aroma. (Okay, so that’s not that scary, but the adults will enjoy it).

Reactions, imagination, creativity

Turning your home into a haunted house doesn’t have to be a project done solely by yourself. The fun part is focusing on the reactions, imagination, and creativity of your kids. So, this Halloween, make it fun and family oriented, without having to shell out for a smoke machine you’ll only use once a year or otherwise going over the top. And who knows? Maybe this will be the best Halloween for you since you yourself took to the streets in your costume!

 

 

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.